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Cannabis has long been a subject that has divided people, with some people revering it for its medicinal and recreational uses and others demonizing it as a “gateway drug”. And for a long time, despite opposition and federal prohibition, both state-legal and black market cultivation and sales continued, always favoring high-THC strains over high-CBD flower.
But over the last decade, we’ve seen a massive shift in demand towards high CBD low THC flower instead. A recent survey found that a third of Americans have used CBD, which is quite astonishing, especially considering that hardly anyone knew what CBD was just a decade ago.
In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at the revolution of low-THC high-CBD flower and examine the reasons why people are starting to favor strains that contain a higher CBD content.
THC: Always Stealing the Show
Historically, delta-9 THC has pretty much stolen the show when it comes to cannabis compounds and for a long time it was the only cannabinoid that people had heard of. THC has been used for a number of decades within palliative care for both cancer and aids patients, to help increase appetite, relieve nausea, and ease chronic pain and overall suffering.
It’s also the cannabinoid that is responsible for making cannabis users feel high and up until recently, was the most widely studied cannabinoid, despite there being over 100 additional cannabinoids present in cannabis and hemp plants.
It’s likely that a general lack of research and education about other cannabinoids (including CBD and delta-8 THC) led to a situation that resulted in both cultivators and cannabis consumers favoring high-THC strains.
CBD Steps into the Spotlight
CBD only started gaining public interest around ten years ago when a high-CBD low-THC cannabis strain was bred and cultivated by the Stanley brothers in Colorado. After originally being nicknamed “hippies disappointment” (due to the complete lack of high it produced), the strain was soon renamed Charlotte’s Web after successfully treating a little girl’s severe and complicated form of epilepsy called Dravet’s Syndrome.
The little girl was called Charlotte Figi and taking daily doses of this high CBD strain reduced her seizure frequency from around 300 per week to just two or three per month. The high-CBD cannabis strain developed by the Stanley brothers transformed Charlotte’s life and in less than one month went from being one hippie’s disappointment to another person’s savior.
This good news story spread like wildfire and other parents soon started flocking to Colorado, where cannabis was legalized for medical use in 2000 and recreational use in 2012, to try to get their hands on this supposed miracle cure for rare and difficult-to-treat forms of epilepsy.
Therapeutic Benefits of CBD
However, according to growing anecdotal evidence, seizures weren’t the only symptom relief that CBD was providing people with.
Scientists had also been studying CBD for several decades by this time and while a lot of the research was preclinical (conducted in the lab and on animals), evidence strongly suggested that it possessed many desirable properties, including the ability to relieve symptoms of anxiety and pain, help people sleep better at night, and improve mood and mental clarity.
CBD’s and CBG’s analgesic properties and anti-inflammatory effects were especially gratefully received, as America was struggling with an opioid crisis of epic proportions.
It’s estimated that 40% of CBD users take their CBD for pain relief. Many people were looking for a more healthy and natural alternative to traditional prescription medicines, and CBD seemed to offer an effective and non-addicting solution.
In 2017, the first FDA-approved CBD medicine, Epidiolex, became available on prescription to treat certain rare types of epilepsy. The first of many cannabinoid medicines, we’re sure.
Legalization Leads to Better Availability
Up until this point, all forms of cannabis (including hemp) were still illegal at the federal level, so access to CBD flower was restricted, both for personal use and for research purposes. The situation started to change for CBD back in 2014 when the Farm Bill differentiated hemp from cannabis, as cannabis with a THC concentration of 0.3% or less. Then, in 2018, industrial hemp and all of its derivatives were federally legalized.
Following legalization, the number of hemp farmers, CBD extraction facilities, and CBD hemp flower brands grew dramatically and suddenly CBD was appearing everywhere, online and in-store.
The Rise of Low THC CBD Flower Strains
It’s no secret that people have been taking cannabis for thousands of years to soothe a wide range of ailments, from arthritis to nausea, but a recent increase in the availability of high CBD hemp flower strains meant that people were finally able to access the health benefits of cannabis, without getting high.
These high CBD hemp strains had rich terpene profiles that also appealed to a large number of people who enjoyed the experience of smoking this aromatic plant, including experienced smokers that no longer enjoyed getting high or just didn’t want to be high all the time.
In August 2019 it appeared the battle between CBD flower and THC flower reached a tipping point as BDS Analytics reported that 54% of edible cannabis consumers in fully legal states now choose their cannabis products based on CBD content instead of THC content.
They also found that 58% of people now prefer cannabis products with a higher CBD content, with lower amounts of THC or even no THC at all. Many people even blend CBD flower with THC flower to balance out the effects.
In just ten short years high-CBD flower has transformed the face of the health and wellness market and as research, awareness, and education about CBD continues to increase, the explosive popularity of low THC high CBD flower strains shows no signs of slowing down.
If you’re curious to know more about the effects of low THC high CBD flower, then check out this article here, where we discuss what it feels like to smoke premium quality hemp flower. Or find your perfect strain with our personal shopper here.